Train petition off to capital
A petition signed by 11,500 people calling for a commuter train between Hamilton and Auckland will be presented to Parliament this week.
The petition, led by public transport advocacy group Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), was presented to Waikato MPs at the Hamilton railway station yesterday in front of 70 people. The group wants a commuter service to be in operation before the end of the year.
Labour MP Sue Moroney will present the petition to Parliament on Thursday and it will then be passed on to the transport and industrial relations select committee, chaired by Hamilton East MP David Bennett.
The campaign was launched in December after New Zealand Transport Agency and Environment Waikato decided against paying for the Silver Fern railcars to be commissioned for use on the new service.
CBT spokesman Jon Reeves said community support had been overwhelming.
"People have been running up to us to sign this petition – it's amazing.
"People have asked us why it's not happening already and we have let them know Environment Waikato is not as supportive as Auckland Regional Council."
He argued that over time the service would be economically viable, take 100 cars off the road a day to help ease Auckland's traffic problems and reduce the number of road accidents.
The proposed service has gained support from residents and organisations including Hamilton's Kakariki House and the Railway and Maritime Transport Union.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Simcock said the council believed a commuter train was inevitable but had walked away from it last year after costs escalated and it was too much for ratepayers to bear on their own.
Mr Simcock said CBT should ensure Kiwi Rail's board knew about the support for the service.
"It may be taken as a signal that there's support and potential passenger usage that starts to make a better business case for them."